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No Surprise: CES Goes Virtual in 2021

What was supposed to happen in Vegas will be streamed to your laptop

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The CES electronics show in January was one of the last big international industry events before the coronavirus spread and canceled virtually every large-scale gathering in its wake.

                                                                (Image: CTA)

The week-long event attracts some 170,000 attendees and 4,400 exhibitors across multiple Las Vegas venues totaling 2.9 million sq ft. If that’s not enough, there also are scores of related activities plus lots of crowded gambling, entertainment and dining options.

There’s no way a show of this magnitude can be safely held with the pandemic still raging across much of the U.S.

And it won’t—at least not in its traditional in-person format.

Digital Reimagining

Today, the Consumer Technology Assn. announced the 2021 show (Jan. 6-9) will be held online.

The show organizers describe the reimagined CES as “an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world.”

The rationale is simple. "Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” explains CTA chief Gary Shapiro.

He notes that the digital platforms that people have relied on to work and attend classes remotely—or connect with friends and family—will be used to showcase the latest product innovations and bring the community together in new ways.

But, make no mistake, CTA says the goal is to return en masse to Las Vegas in 2022.

What’s Next

Some other early 2021 events also have been canceled.

Last month, the organizers of the Geneva auto show scrubbed next year’s event that had been due to start in late February was canceled. The decision was attributed to a mix of cash problems, lack of interest among exhibitors and ongoing COVID-19 health concerns.

As of now, the Los Angeles auto show still is scheduled for late November. But the date seems tenuous at best, with COVID cases escalating over the last month.

The next virtual event is coming up quick with next week’s Management Briefing Seminars. You can register for the conference here—from the comfort of your home and get the AutoBeat discount by using MBS promo code “mbsgardner.”

It’s probably the same seat you’ll use as an attendee for this and many other upcoming shows and webinars.

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